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Texas Loses Two Key Starters

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Running back Johnathan Gray is gone for the season due to an Achilles injury. Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images.
Running back Johnathan Gray is gone for the season due to an Achilles injury. Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images.

Texas joined college football's war of attrition Saturday despite surviving a trip to West Virginia with an overtime win.

The Longhorns lost running back Johnathan Gray (Achilles) and defensive tackle Chris Whaley (knee) for the rest of the season, the school announced Sunday night.

Texas (7-2, 6-0) will try to protect a six-game win streak Saturday when it hosts No. 12 Oklahoma State. It also must travel to No. 5 Baylor to close the season. A loss in either of those games, or to Texas Tech (7-3), and the Big 12 championship likely goes elsewhere.

With quarterback David Ash (concussion) missing most of the season, Gray was essential on offense. He rushed for a team-high 780 yards on 4.9 yards per carry. Texas does have a good group of backups, including Malcolm Brown (8 rushing TDs) and Joe Bergeron (5.5 ypc), but the team will miss Gray, one of the better backs in the Big 12.

Whaley, a senior, is a vocal leader and emerged this year as one of the team's best playmakers (five tackles for loss, two sacks and two touchdowns). Junior Desmond Jackson replaced Whaley against West Virginia, and likely will continue to man that spot, but the Whaley loss may sting even more than Ash and Gray on offense, as he anchored a defensive line that should get a chunk of the credit for Texas' win streak.

Quarterback Case McCoy, the healthy running backs and the rest of the defense now have more pressure, not to mention the outside stress of expectations, the talk of head coach Mack Brown's future and a Big 12 that will be decided in the next few weeks.